I’ve recently been helping my son revise literary terms for his English Language GCSE. We’ve worked mainly with the basics:
Metaphor – A word or phrase applied to object or action that is not meant literally but is used to evoke vivid comparison: He was a mighty redwood tree.
Simile – A comparison between two similar things usually including ‘like’ or ‘as’: She was as gentle as a doe.
Assonance – The similarity of two or more vowel sounds to give writing a musical quality: The distant hills were a simple pleasure.
Alliteration – A poetic affect created by using several words with the same or similar first letter or stressed syllable: Kirsty’s cat was incredibly quick.
Hyperbole – Deliberate or obvious exaggeration to create humour or intensity: The sad young woman ate every cake in the shop.
Sibilance – Consonants produced with a soft hissing sound: Share the soft grassy spot with me.
Onomatopoeia – Use of words that imitate sounds: The shot exploded into the night air with a bang.
Personification – The attribution of human characteristics to things not human: The tree screamed, and flailed it’s arms at the wind’s foul mood.
As a writer it’s quite grounding to get back to basics sometimes, so I dug out my old Ted Hughes book ‘Poetry in the Making’ to remind myself of his great advice:
“Words that live are those which we hear, like ‘click’ or ‘chuckle’, or which we see, like ‘freckled’ or ‘veined’, or which we taste, like ‘vinegar’ or ‘sugar’, or touch, like ‘prickle’ or ‘oily’, or smell, like ‘tar’ or ‘onion’. Words which belong directly to one of the five senses. Or words which act and seem to use their muscles, like ‘flick’, or ‘balance’.
And this got me on to some more advice and wisdom from some of the best writers:
“Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” (Stephen King)
“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.” (Ray Bradbury)
“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise the muscles seize up.” (Jane Yolen)
“The writer is an explorer, every step is an advance into a new land.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
“You can make anything by writing.” (C.S.Lewis)